If you’re a part of the 68% of businesses(1) without a conversion rate optimization (CRO) strategy, this one is for you. A solid CRO plan can double or even triple your revenue, so it’s absolutely worth thinking about if you aren’t already. Many top-performing businesses spend upwards of $2,000 a month on CRO, making it clear that there is a value in this marketing tool.
So what exactly is conversion rate optimization? And what are some best practices?
Definition of CRO
A website’s conversion rate is the number of visitors who perform a given action. This action can be anything from clicking through a certain link to signing up for a newsletter to downloading an e-book. The conversion rate is expressed as a percentage. Between two and four percent is generally considered to be a good conversion rate, meaning if your site receives 100 visitors, between two and four would perform the desired action.
Conversion rate optimization, then, is an attempt to increase your site’s conversion rate. In other words, CRO is a marketing technique that focuses on all aspects of a website in order to increase the number of visitors who perform a given action.
( Also read: CRO – A Comprehensive Guide )
CRO Best Practices
Let’s take a look at some steps that can help boost your conversion rate.
Do your research
You need to have a thorough understanding of exactly who your audience is, and why they may object to taking a given action. For example, if you want visitors to download an e-book, how can you alleviate their fears of inadvertently downloading malware? Take a look at your audience and consider your website from their perspective.
If your website involves articles or blog posts, make sure the headlines grab the reader’s attention. Your titles should be engaging, informative, and leave the reader curious to know more. Make sure they are relevant, as well– the primary focus of an article titled “How to Change a Lightbulb” should, in fact, be the process of changing a lightbulb.
Define your objectives
In order for CRO to be effective, it’s important to clearly define what you are trying to achieve. Your efforts will be scattered and ultimately wasted unless you know what your goals are. Figure out if you want users to download that e-book, or click through to a certain page. Once you know what you want, it’s much easier to move forward with CRO.
Monitor your objectives
To find out if your CRO attempts are successful, you need to monitor your progress towards your goals. Did your conversion rate increase after CRO implementation? Or did it stay the same? Worst yet, what if it decreased? Keeping an eye on your conversion rate helps you make necessary adjustments to your CRO strategy.
Monitor your competitors
Just as important as monitoring your own site, is monitoring your competitors. Know what CRO practices they are engaging in, and how they are measuring their success. Likely their target audience is the same as yours, and what works for them may work for you, too. Don’t be afraid to switch up your strategy based on a competitor’s approach.
Integrate user-generated content into your site
This is especially applicable if you are trying to sell a product. People respond very well to product reviews from real people. Word of mouth establishes trust with a brand much better than any other means of advertising. If you have positive user reviews, make sure they are displayed in a visible spot on your website.
Keep your tone consistent
The tone you use on your landing page should match the other pages of your site, as well as your advertising. If you are a more tongue-in-cheek brand, don’t produce overly formal advertisements.
Keep it short and sweet
This is particularly true if you are trying to get visitors to fill out a survey or provide feedback. This isn’t a game of 20 questions. Ask a few relevant, easy-to-answer questions rather than overloading your survey. You’ll increase user engagement if people don’t have to etch out a huge portion of time to participate. The most engaging surveys consist of 11 forms fields or less(2).
Perform qualitative research
Qualitative research involves going over conceptual data– things like user feedback and market research into consumer behavior. Qualitative research can help you to better understand your audience, and to adapt your CRO more effectively.
Perform quantitative research
Quantitative research, on the other hand, involves graphs, charts, and hard data. This type of information is also important to obtain. Concrete numbers can be used to tell you exactly where you are with your conversion rate, allowing you to adjust it.
Find out where your visitors are
Is the bulk of your traffic simply on your landing page? Or is there a specific area of your site that people usually navigate to? Knowing where your visitors are better allows you to target them.
Keep an eye on your traffic
Sites like Google Analytics allow you to really break down where your visitors are coming from. Are most of them from a Google search? If so, could you increase your visitor count by creating more content related to that search term? Knowing who visits your website and from where allows you to better tailor your site to them.
Watch your load times
Don’t bog down your site with unnecessary graphics, videos, and music that may slow its overall load time. We live in an instant gratification society, and the expectation is that websites load in two seconds or less(3). Google, for example, aims for a half-second load time.
Make and test micro-goals
Don’t make a bunch of sweeping changes at one time and expect to know which ones worked and which ones were a flop. Micro changes are effective because they allow you to test the efficacy of each individual adjustment. This is known in the CRO world as A/B testing.
Consider your mobile audience
It’s entirely possible that your visitors are coming to you from their phone versus a desktop or laptop. If you don’t have a dedicated mobile site, at least make sure it shows up legibly on a mobile phone.
Make use of technology
Machine learning, a type of Artificial Intelligence, can greatly simplify your approach to CRO. There are several applications in existence, including one from SessionCam that allows you to pinpoint exactly where visitors to your site have problems.
Only use the forms you need
Forms bog down a website and eat up precious time for your visitors. You want your site to be engaging, but not overly so. With that in mind, eliminate any unnecessary forms from your site.
Make use of video
A well-edited video can help draw visitors in and increase the amount of time they spend on your page. You don’t need to auto-play it, but an informative, engaging video is an asset to any site. In fact, a video can increase user engagement by 80%(3).
Make your CTA stand out
Your call to action should be clear and hard to miss. Ideally, make the button an entirely different color from the rest of your site. If you want visitors to focus on a certain aspect of your site, make it draw their attention in. Bold colored font, for example, is one way to draw a user in.
Before implementing your CRO strategy, figure out what you think is going to happen. Ideally, this should be done with concrete numbers– you predict you’ll double your conversion rate, for example. Having a well-thought-out hypothesis gives you a benchmark for success.
If you got it, flaunt it
If your site or product has earned an award recently, make sure that the award is displayed prominently on your site. Awards and badges help increase consumer trust, so don’t be afraid to have a small section of your site dedicated to them. Some sites will even display award graphics on the bottom of every page.
Keep it going
Don’t pause your CRO experiment in the middle to make adjustments. If your goal is to see how your CRO strategy increases e-book downloads over four weeks, you need to give it the full four weeks to determine if it’s working. Pulling the plug early may not give you a full picture of the success of a campaign.
Use graphics and images
Few things are more boring than a wall of text. Make your CTA more interesting by including graphics and images on your page. Just be sure to keep it relevant to your goal. A graphic of a zebra next to your call to action to sign up for your newsletter about gardening doesn’t make much sense.
Make it free
Whatever your goal is, it should be free to users. And not only should it be free– it should be advertised as such. It’s important for users to know not only how to download your e-book, but also that it won’t cost them anything to do so. Your CTA should make it clear that it’s free– for example, you could say something like “download our FREE e-book today!”.
( Also read: CRO Testing Tools Every Digital Marketer Should Know )
Conversion rate optimization can seem daunting at first, but the reality is it’s something every website should be doing. If you want to increase your conversion rate, CRO is an effective way to do that. Furthermore, many CRO best practices are designed to improve the experience of visitors. If you don’t already have a solid CRO strategy, consider implementing one and see how your site takes off.